Give This, Not That

By November 29, 2016Have Fun, Inspire Ideas, Take Risks

An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Experience Gift Giving

It’s the holiday season and America’s quest to buy more crap is at an all-time high. This is a breakdown of 2016 holiday spending so far (and it’s not even December yet!).

Black Friday — 70 billion
Small Business Saturday — 18.3 billion
Cyber Monday — 3.45 billion

All I can say is holy crap that is a lot of crap.

I don’t know about you, but my family and I have managed to accumulate so much stuff. Stuff, upon stuff upon stuff. We are a family of three who has filled 3,000 square feet of living space and can barely squeeze a single car into a three-car garage. We also have stuff stored at my Mom’s and park one of my husband’s work vehicles at his Mom’s. It is pure insanity. I am not even sure I can pinpoint when it got so out of control.

Most of the stuff is not even good stuff. Not expensive, just freakin’ stuff we have collected over the years. Truth is, I am at the jumping-off point. It is DRIVING me nuts. So as you can imagine, as the holidays are coming closer, the thought of buying MORE stuff seems literally insane. My 10-year-old has more “things” now than I had accumulated for the entire 18 years of my childhood (multiplied by 10). My husband grew up in a country that was at war, and did not even have electricity, never mind more than one pair of shoes.

How we got here is another BLOG all together and likely requires another couple years with my therapist. The good news is that the mindset shift has started. For the past 2 years (since our car accident) we realized the value of experiences over stuff. It’s not just for Christmas time either. For Ella’s birthday in September we took her and her friends horseback riding and it was so awesome.

Recently, I started to notice a cultural shift. More and more articles started popping up about experiential gift giving. I kept seeing people posting on social media saying, “my kids have everything, what should I get them?” Instead of trying to present them with back orders from Santa for the latest Hatchimal, try giving them an experience instead. There is no shortage of experiential gift-giving opportunities out there. Here is a list of ideas, broken down by the type of person (or group of people) you are buying for. Consider this an early holiday gift from me to you. You’re welcome.

For the Family

  • Zoo memberships
  • Movie tickets
  • Sporting events (if you are on a budget, check out a local sports teams)
  • Theme park passes
  • Concert tickets

For the Adventurer

  • Membership to a rock climbing gym
  • Ski lift tickets
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Skydiving lessons
  • Indoor skydiving
  • National park pass
  • Horseback riding session
  • Surfing lessons

For the Fitness Enthusiast

  • Entry fees for a race/obstacle course
  • Bootcamp passes
  • Personal training sessions
  • Spin gym passes

For the Spiritual Guru

  • Yoga classes
  • Meditation classes
  • Sensory deprivation flotation tank
  • Send one book about spirituality every month

For the Nostalgist

  • Day at the roller rink
  • Go-kart racing
  • Bowling tournament
  • Mini golf off
  • Mixed tape (ok, wanted to see if you were paying attention or not)

For the Foodie

  • Restaurant gift certificates (duh) – try places in another town. Even drive a few hours.
  • Cooking classes
  • Tickets to a food festival
  • Road trip to a food festival (day trip or overnight)

For the Artistic Type

  • Wine and painting class
  • Sewing/ crafting classes
  • Pottery classes
  • Museum membership
  • Gallery passes

For the Alcoholic

  • Brewery tour
  • Wine country tour
  • Bar treasure hunt (If you really want to get creative, make up a mystery bar tour in your own city – complete with Uber of course)
  • Wine of the month club

Instead of doing 12 minutes of gift-opening at 5 am on Christmas morning, consider giving 12 gifts (one for each month of the year) to be opened up once a month. And no one knows what it will be until they open it. Some examples include; movies tickets, bowling passes, family game night, a 2-hour drive to have lunch at a restaurant in another town, or an overnight stay in a local hotel with a pool, a hike, a nap …anything!

The act of opening a present can be an experience in and of itself. Here are some tips for creative holiday gift wrapping. I like to wrap my tickets, experiences, treasure maps etc. inside of random things. The more random and unrelated to the gift the better. I am not sure what better gift there possibly can be, than family laughter.

  • Cereal boxes – for some reason Lucky Charms box’s are funny
  • Diaper boxes (child or adult diapers) – wrap your ten-year-old son’s tickets to the latest Star Wars movie in a Diaper Box. He may not laugh, but everyone else will.
  • Tape gift cards to the bottom of cans of beans or a can of SPAM. SPAM makes everyone smile. Or a can of Fruit Cocktail. They are just funny.
  • Put concert tickets inside of toilet paper or paper towel rolls.
  • Tape gift certificates to the bottom of a plunger (can’t wait for this one this year).
  • Put something (tickets, certificates, gift cards or a small toy) inside a bag of rice so they have to dig through the bag to get it – obnoxious, messy and fun.
  • And my all-time favorite … Wrap your husband’s sporting event tickets in a tampon box and laugh hysterically when he opens it up in front of his family.

This year I recommend focusing on experiences rather than stuff, and connections instead of crap. Have some experience gift ideas I didn’t mention here? Tweet me, @jax_rosales

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